Escarole Soup, Frani’s Style
A photo shot of her in an apron cooking at the oven might well fit into a photograph depicting scenes of Italy in an age past, the daughter of Italian immigrants.
Her father was a chef.
Dark black hair with occasional strand pieces of salt mixed into the pepper balanced with an extensive dark black clothing wardrobe, a style she has always worn throughout my many years of knowing her.
Colored shades of nail polish change hues with regularity and highlight her olive colored skin. Usually displaying a full range of jewelry, some pieces fit the mood, some guarantee good luck or ward off the evil eye, a notion never to be taken lightly.
Astrological numbers and auspicious months, years and dates of birth often surround the conversation with Frani as well as books and movies interspersed between the good luck and the bad, its all in the cards, you know.
Hospitality is warm and the food whose menu is well thought out in detail is focused on the basics of simplicity some of these learned dishes from her late father such as Escarole Soup. Escarole Soup with Meatballs.
Strict rules surround the Italian kitchen of Frani, moments when one may presently sit in the kitchen, and other times literally being shushed away. Upon arrival, one is treated to small bites that begin appearing bits at a time, some roasted red peppers, some celery, a little Italian style cooked broccoli rabe with crusty bread slices. The antipasti always changes.
The mysterious intrigue of this woman is no less shared with recipes of simplicity that involve a little of this and a little of that nothing measured with the exception of baking in particular, the preciously baked varieties of Italian cookies displayed on massive cookie trays each Christmas season. There are sweet and savory, pizelles and biscotti, some with fruit or nuts, others decorated with certain great tedious patience. These always served alongside hot brewed coffee with a broad accompanied selection of flavored, top shelf liquors.
One thing that never changes is the Escarole soup. Its tradition. It is special occasion and an any night, any season, simple supper.
Frani’s Escarole soup has been among my most special favorites for over twenty years.
It’s not that the process of Frani’s recipes, this one included, are mystical so much as the matter of merely weaving ingredient approximations between multi-topic sentences tumbling about like shaking a mixed ingredient salad dressing together into one.
There are after all, meal details, astrological numbers, auspicious years, months, and dates of birth always spinning in the universe, books and movies to be discussed.
Along with a bit of bossiness too, the Italian sort of way, what you should, and should not do. Kind of like Cher in the movie Moonstruck telling her first fiance character Johnny Camereri, not to eat fish before flying off to Palermo to visit his dying mother. The greasiness she warns will lay in his stomach, the mere implication as if he may turn green not to heed the advise.
Frani’s Escarole Soup contains no pasta. It’s simple ingredients include broth, eggs, Parmesan cheese, escarole, and homemade tiny meatballs.
It may be prepared and eaten on the same day or most of the ingredients may be prepared in advance and put together at a moments notice, this makes it magical.
It’s a pleasure to share this recipe with you today, thanks to my dear friend Frani, but I thought (knew) that someday… it was always in the cards. Today is an auspicious day you know.